Jenny Allen is re-releasing her book Anything: The prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul (now with a Bible study).
Here is my Anything story:
I stood crying in front of the phone. My toddler, kindergartner, and 2nd grader played quietly in the living room as I reached out my hand to make the call. When I dialed the number, a friendly voice asked how she could help me, and I told her I would have to drop my classes and quit school. She took my name, said she was sorry, and then goodbye. As I hung the phone back on the cradle, I looked to Heaven for help.
Lord, if I lay down my dream because of my husband or my children, I will resent them and this sacrifice. I will move forward, but somewhere in my heart I will hate them for making me choose. This dream is too big to deny. My whole life I have longed to go to college. I always knew someday I would have children and a family, but I never really thought about what that would be like. What I thought about was college. When the glossy magazine-like materials arrived weekly during my junior year, I gathered them in my bed and thumbed through the ivy covered pages. I dreamed of majoring in communication, living in a dorm, and spending time studying in the library.
Now, ten years and three kids later, the dream had been rekindled. My husband and and I had agreed that now that the kids were older, I could begin. I walked through the process, took the placement test, registered for classes, and arranged the world to clear a path for school. The day before the phone call, my husband had announced that my car was dead. It would need work, several thousand dollars worth, that we did not have. I already didn’t know how I was going to pay my tuition, but the broken down car presented an unsurmountable hurdle.
The crisis I faced in the fallout of the phone call was a matter of the heart. I had already made the decision to drop out, but now I had to figure out how to hold the decision so that it didn’t threaten to destroy my family. The dream deferred had to be accounted for and the only place I knew to look was toward my Heavenly Father. I sensed His Presence in my turmoil, and a question. Could I lay my dream at the feet of the One who knew my name? The One who had proven His love and commitment to me at Calvary? Would I trust Him to hold it with no promises… would I lay it down and let Him decide when or if college would be for me?
Together, we assessed my heart. I could blame my husband, or sacrifice this on the altar of motherhood, but if I was honest, I knew anger and resentment would be the result. This dream held power in my heart. This dream needed special attention. Would I lay my dream at His feet and trust Him alone to deal with it? There was little doubt, this was a nuclear dream for me. A dream that held the power to destroy. My little family was at stake and I had to choose. If I let it be about them, I could undermine our home, our future, our life together. I looked into His heart, I knew He alone was able to hold it. I could trust Him, because He loved me. I surrendered my dream there, on the kitchen floor. I found the sweet comfort of His love to be enough to carry me forward. Anything, Lord, anything.
PS- Six years later He did return the dream to me. But not before bringing me through a season of healing and restoration. When I said anything Lord, He met me in my mothering and used that time to bring health and vitality to my home and family. He saw the weaknesses and wounds of my heart and focused my attention on the most important things, my marriage and my children. For this I am truly grateful. Last summer we marked our 25th wedding anniversary at a renewal ceremony in our back yard. We celebrated the amazing life God has blessed us with, surrounded by our children, friends, and family.
When I entrusted my dream of going to college to Him, I imagined attending a community college and maybe the local college down the road. He had a different plan, one that eventually led to a prestigious women’s college and a summer at Yale University. The dream He returned was so much bigger and better than the one I handed Him. Today, I hold a masters degree and now I work to open doors to community college students.